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Defining the Great Outdoors

What does “outdoors” mean?  As the guardian of a new puppy, the definition is very clear to me, if not yet to her.

The Division does not see it so clearly.  In 2007, it cited AC Transit for violations of the heat illness prevention regulation (Title 8 CCR 3395).  Specifically, the Division alleged that the public transportation agency failed to provide adequate drinking water and shade for bus drivers while driving their routes.

In reaching the conclusion to cite AC Transit under the heat illness regulation, the Division concluded that the inside of a non-air-conditioned transit bus qualifies among “outdoor places of employment”.  Confused?  So are we.  And, apparently, so was the Division.  No less that three justifications for this conclusion were provided by the Division during the course of this case.

First, the citing inspector used the criteria that the Division provided inspectors during their training: If a workplace has no plumbed water, no shade to cool off and is such that emergency response would be difficult, it is “outdoors.”

Second, an expert witness testifying for the Division stated that, “technically,” she would classify drivers as working outdoors “if they ever had to leave the vehicle, you know, to assist someone coming in or whatever.”

A third explanation was offered by the Division’s counsel who, in the closing brief, argued that all space “outside a building” is outdoors for purposes of the regulation.

All of these definitions were rejected by the Board’s administrative law judge who concluded that the heat illness regulation does not apply to busses.  The Division then petitioned the Board for reconsideration.

The Board accepted the challenge of answering the question: What is “outdoors”?  The Board rejected all of the Division’s views. And it specifically called the Division out on it’s edited version of Webster’s Online’s definition.  The Division quoted Webster’s as defining “outdoors” as “outside a building,” leaving out the second half of the full entry: “outside a building: in or into the open air.”

After five and a half years of litigation (from citation to Decision After Reconsideration), the question is finally answered: The interior of a bus is not “outdoors.”  At least for my puppy’s purposes, could there be any other conclusion?


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